Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Crews preteating roads ahead of snow

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plans to pretreat highways across about the northern third of Highway District 2 starting Wednesday morning. District 2 does not include Crittenden or Livingston County, but does include Union, Webster, Henderson and eight other counties.

Crews will be gearing up to start pretreating in the Ohio River border counties and a few selected others around 8 a.m. on Wednesday to prepare for an approaching winter system that could drop up to an inch of snow across the district’s northernmost counties on Thursday.

The forecast indicates a threat of some accumulation of snow starting Thursday morning across the northern portion of the 11-county district. While the present forecast is only indicating up to about one inch of snow arriving on Thursday, crews will be pretreating through the day on Wednesday in the northernmost counties. The long-range forecast also indicates a chance of snow Friday into Saturday.

The KYTC District 2 Snow & Ice Team anticipates crews will have time to complete pretreatment of about half of the highways in the counties where snow is expected to accumulate.

Motorists should be alert for slow moving brine trucks out and about on Wednesday as highway crews go about their pretreating efforts. Appropriate caution is required anytime you encounter a brine truck.

Tanker trucks will be spraying brine that dries to leave a fine powder of salt on the roadway driving surface.  The powdered salt is then available to be immediately activated to help improve driving conditions in the early hours of a winter snow and ice event.  It also serves to keep the snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, making it easier for plows to remove snow from the roadway once it accumulates.

Pretreating has a fairly specific set of requirements. Kentucky Highway crews do not pretreat if there is substantial rain in the forecast prior to the start of snow as the rain would wash away any benefits of the material. They also generally do not pretreat when temperatures are below about 16 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit as low temperatures would create an opportunity for the brine to flash freeze and create slick spots when it hits the road surface.

Kentucky was among a number of states that helped to pioneer pretreating with brine as an inexpensive way to prepare in advance of approaching winter weather events.  The process is now in wide use across the nation.